The Guy Getting The World’s First Head Transplant Could Suffer ‘A Fate Worse Than Death’

04.10.15 4 years ago 44 Comments

Valery Spiridonov, 30, of Russia suffers from a rare disease called Werdnig-Hoffman Disease, which is a severe form of spinal muscular atrophy. As such, he has volunteered for the first human head transplant to be conducted by Italian neuroscientist Sergio Canavero, and have his head surgically removed and put onto another body. The procedure will reportedly take 36 hours and require the assistance of 150 doctors and nurses.

Sound super easy! Right? NOT SO MUCH, according to Science Alert:

“A Werdnig-Hoffman disease sufferer with rapidly declining health, Spiridonov is willing to take a punt on this very experimental surgery and you can’t really blame him, but while he is prepared for the possibility that the body will reject his head and he will die, his fate could be considerably worse than death,” says Hootan.

“I would not wish this on anyone,” said Dr Hunt Batjer, president elect of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons. “I would not allow anyone to do it to me as there are a lot of things worse than death.”

From speaking to several medical experts, Hootan has pin-pointed a problem that even the most perfectly performed head transplant procedure cannot mitigate – we have literally no idea what this will do to Spiridonov’s mind. There’s no telling what the transplant – and all the new connections and foreign chemicals that his head and brain will have to suddenly deal with – will do to Spiridonov’s psyche, but as Hootan puts it rather chillingly, it “could result in a hitherto never experienced level and quality of insanity.”

One of the scariest things I’ve ever read of Stephen King’s that’s stuck with me was “The Jaunt” from his short story anthology, Skeleton Crew. The story involved teleportation into space, but one had to be under general anesthesia because, while the physical process took a fraction of a second, it was an eternity to the human mind. And, of course, someone held their breath while being anesthetized and went completely insane.

So, this head transplant stuff, to me, basically sounds exactly like that. Maybe we should just not transplant human heads? Has anyone thought of that? (Via BroBible)

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